‘Employment contracts essential when hiring locals to avoid problems’
EMPLOYERS should avoid settling solely on verbal agreements with prospective employees when hiring local workers in order to avoid any complications should a dispute arise.
Senior Labour Inspector Mohd Hazizul Hassan said this on the sidelines of a recent talk at the KBSentral Job Fair, noting that verbal employment agreements have become a common practice, especially among small-scale businesses including food stalls.
He said this might be due to their size. But regardless of how small their businesses are, Mohd Hazizul stressed that it is still important for an employment contract to be signed in order to protect the rights of the parties involved in the agreement.
These rights, he said, can be expressed in the terms and conditions to be signed, including a specified job description and the number of working hours, which have been set to a maximum of eight hours per day under Employment Order 2009.
“So without a proper contract, a worker can claim that the employee didn’t pay him or her as agreed, or the employer can claim that the worker had never worked with the company before.
“When that happens, the employment contract is the key factor to decide the argument,” he said.
He said the employment contract is also a guarantee for small-scale companies to at least retain enough workers to ensure their growth, given that there is a term that compels an employee to notify their employer should the employee wish to terminate his or her employment.
Matters revolving around the provision of a contract by employers to employees remain an ongoing issue, said Mohd Hazizul, adding that although there are no proper statistics, they have often received cases where contracts were absent between employers and employees.
“Or if there are contracts, they will usually be incomplete and will mostly favour the employers. Some were also not in adherence to Employment Order 2009, with the working hours set to 10 hours per day instead of eight,” he said.
So in this regard, he said both employers and employees are responsible for fully understanding their terms and conditions and they must be agreed to by both parties.
“But should they (employees) not be aware of the impacts of the terms and conditions, they can discreetly bring their contracts to us without the knowledge of their potential employers for some consultation,” he said.
For small-scale businesses, he encouraged them to set the terms and conditions themselves and then to have the Labour Department check whether they are in adherence to Employment Order 2009.
“Besides checking the guidelines from our website www.labour.gov.bn, they can always approach any of the labour enforcement officials at any branch of the Labour Department.”
The Brunei Times